Woods shares 36-hole lead at Bay Hill

By Doug FergusonMarch 23, 2012, 9:58 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods is in a place he hasn’t been in 30 months – atop the leaderboard on the PGA Tour going into the weekend.

Showing shocking control, Woods putted for birdie on every hole and made short work of the par 5s Friday at Bay Hill for a 7-under 65, giving him a share of the lead with Charlie Wi after two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“A lot of positives today,” Woods said.

Wi, the 54-hole leader at Pebble Beach this year, rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on his last hole for a 68 to join Woods at 10-under 134.

Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell had an eagle-par-birdie finish for a 63, while Jason Dufner extended his solid play on the Florida swing with a 69. They were one shot behind at 135.

Woods last had the 36-hole lead in any tour event at the Australian Open in November, and he tied for third. On the PGA Tour, go all the way back to the Tour Championship in September 2009 to find the last time he was atop the leaderboard going into the weekend.

It looks even more ominous at Bay Hill, where Woods is a six-time winner.

“I want to win. Yes, absolutely,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go. It’s not like it’s over right now. We’ve got 36 holes to go.”

Woods at least is in better shape than he was two weeks ago. His future looked as muddled as ever when he rode off the golf course in a cart at Doral because of soreness and swelling in his left Achilles tendon, the same injury that forced him to miss three months and two majors a year ago.

One week later, he was practicing at Augusta National. Now, he’s the player everyone is chasing on the weekend.

“I saw him on television at Doral and didn’t look good there,” said Ernie Els, who was Woods’ playing partner Friday at Bay Hill as well as the last day of the Honda Classic three weeks ago when Tiger shot 62. “Today he was on, and today was the same as I saw at the Honda – very on.”

Woods only had a couple of nervous moments.

He ran off four straight birdies on the front nine to quickly get into the mix, and then couldn’t decide how to play his tee shot on the 10th. It didn’t help that earlier in the round, he looked over at adjacent first tee and saw Nick Watney – affectionately known as “Rube” – pipe his tee shot out-of-bounds to the right.

“I got over there and for some reason I’m thinking, ‘You know, I probably really shouldn’t hit this driver; I’ll take something off of it, and just hit a little softy out there.’ And bailed on it, because I didn’t want to hit it right out-of-bounds,” Woods said. “And I chalked that up to just not listening to my instincts of hitting a 3-iron down there or just chipping a 5-wood – or not watching Ruby hit that shot.”

Woods was lucky. The snap hook bounced off a net fence protecting the houses, and he had just enough room to play to the middle of the 10th green and walk away with par.

He also was disgusted with his approach to the par-5 16th, turning in anger and swiping at the ground. It wasn’t a great shot, but it was dry, catching the left side of the green 50 feet away and setting up a two-putt birdie.

Woods also had a two-putt birdie at the par-5 sixth. He made birdies on the other par 5s with his wedge game. Over two rounds, he has had such improved control of his play that he hit 19 consecutive greens in regulation at one point. That streak ended on the 13th hole Friday, when he two-putted for par from on the fringe.

Some of that is familiarity.

“I’ve had a few places where I’ve felt comfortable and I’ve played well, and this is one of them,” Woods said. “For some reason, I just understand how to play it.”

And some of that is becoming more confident with his swing, especially how far he is hitting the ball. Woods said he was not hitting his irons as well before going to work with Sean Foley, and a straighter, tighter ball flight has led to more distance – and more adjustments.

He felt as though he hit the ball better on Thursday in a round of 69, although he didn’t have nearly as many birdie chances.

“My bad days are not as bad as they used to be,” Woods said.

This will mark the fifth time Woods has had at least a share of the 36-hole lead at Bay Hill, and he has failed to win only once from that position. Woods served up several reminders that the tournament is only halfway over, along with gentle rebukes that it hasn’t been that long that he’s been in the hunt.

He was tied for the 54-hole lead at Abu Dhabi, finishing third behind Robert Rock. Woods played well at the Australian Open until a poor third round. As for winning, he counts that birdie-birdie finish to win the Chevron World Challenge, which counted toward the world ranking even though it featured an 18-man field from the top 50 in the world.

“So it really has not been as long as people might think it has been,” Woods said. “I’m comfortable up there, and I feel like I’m playing well. We’ve still got a long way to go. We still have 36 holes to go. Still need to continue doing what I’m doing out there, just kind of plodding my way along.”

Wi, who shared the 18-hole lead with Dufner, birdied four of his last six holes to catch up to Woods. From the right rough on the ninth hole, he hammered out a shot to 25 feet below the cup for one last birdie.

Wi and Woods grew up in southern California and have known each other since their junior days, though Wi is four years older.

“Tiger is the man, and it’s going to be fun tomorrow,” Wi said.

The best round came from McDowell, and it was a reminder of how far he has come in one year. McDowell had a dream season in 2010 by winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, winning the decisive point for Europe in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, then ending the year with a record comeback against Woods in the Chevron World Challenge.

McDowell had a hard time managing his time, much less his expectations, and the eye-opener was at Bay Hill last year when he shot 80.

This time, McDowell was 17 shots better.

“That 80 was a wake-up call, but I didn’t wake up for another four months or so,” McDowell said. “It was more of the panic button. It was a pretty awful four or five months for me.

“But like I say, I feel like you learn more from those types of experiences than you do from shooting 63 at Bay Hill. There’s not much to learn out there except that if you play great and hole some putts, you can go low.”

That’s just what he did.

Dufner set the early pace and was the first to reach 10 under until going for the green on the par-5 sixth, misjudging the wind and going into the water to make bogey. Even so, it was another solid round in Florida. Dufner had the lead going into the weekend at Innisbrook, and now he is one shot behind at Bay Hill.

“I think any given day, I can go out and shoot 5 or 6 under, do it pretty comfortably,” Dufner said. “If the putter were to get hot, I feel like I could shoot some lower scores. There has not been a lot of stressful situations that last two or three weeks.”

The stress might pick up Saturday. Woods brings energy to the course when he’s around the lead, especially at Bay Hill, and especially when it’s been so long since he has won on the PGA Tour. He has gone 27 PGA Tour events without a trophy.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.